Come the warmth, come the weeds

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As summer arrives, the job list is a constant round of tending and tweaking and weeding, says gardener Pete Harcom

Don’t forget to water your pots – light rain showers do not necessarily reach potted plants properly

At last – we actually have some warmer weather. Thanks to the longer days and some real sunshine, the garden is finally actively growing now … but of course, so are the weeds!

Weeding
Hoe and hand-pick annual weeds when you see them, before they get out of hand.
Keep deadheading (particularly roses) – removing faded blooms will help continue their display.

Planting and cutting back
Plant out summer bedding, including potting up hanging baskets.
Trim back trailing /spreading plants (eg Aubretia), as this will encourage fresh growth.
Pinch out the tips of fuchsias to encourage bushy growth and more flowers.
If planting out newly purchased clematis plants, put a few handfuls of grit in the bottom of the hole. This will help with drainage and reduce waterlogging.
Tie up the stems of sweet peas – the plants are growing fast and a strong gust of wind or heavy downpour can quickly damage these plants. Secure to a support every 10cm with garden twine. Once they start, pick the flowers often to encourage more blooms.

Cuttings
Now is the perfect time to take softwood cuttings of many shrubs, including lavender, fuchsia, forsythia and philadelphus.
Collect healthy shoots from the tips of plants and make 5-10cm long cuttings – slice through the stem below a pair of leaves and remove the lower set of leaves.
Simply push the cuttings into a small pot filled with gritty cutting compost and place in a shady part of the greenhouse or a windowsill propagator until rooted.

Sowing
In the greenhouse, use blinds, shade cloth or apply shade paint on the external side of greenhouse glass to prevent overheating through the summer months. Remember to always open vents and doors on warm days (automatic window openers are a real bonus this time of year).
Start sowing perennials and biennials such as wallflowers, pansies, daisies, bellis perennis and Sweet Williams between May and July, for flowering next spring and summer. Sow in trays, cover with vermiculite and place in an unheated propagator. Plant into their flowering positions in autumn.

Watering and feeding
Keep an eye on your pots – light rain showers do not necessarily reach potted plants properly.
Start to feed fuchsias and petunias in hanging baskets – and any other flowering pot plants – once you notice flower buds forming.
Feed with fertiliser once a week to boost the flowering and continue feeding until the plants run out of steam in early autumn. Don’t worry about purchasing special products – simply use a high potash liquid tomato feed.

Sponsored by Thorngrove Garden Centre

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